Published March 13, 2012.
Christine, the princess and heir to the real world of Chrysanthe, is kidnapped as a small child by a powerful magician and exiled in a Made World that is a version of our present reality. In exile, supervised by her strict “uncle”(actually a wizard in disguise), she undergoes bogus memory recovery therapy, through which she is forced to remember childhood rape and abuse by her parents and others. She is terribly stunted emotionally by this terrifying plot, but at seventeen discovers it is all a lie. Christine escapes with a rescuer, Sir Quentin, a knight from Chrysanthe, in a thrilling chase across realities.
Once home, the magical standoff caused by her exile is broken, and a war begins, in spite of the best efforts of her father, the king, and his wizard, Melogian. And that war, which takes up nearly the last third of the work, is a marvel of magical invention and terror, a battle between good and evil forces that resounds with echoes of the great battles of fantasy literature. (goodreads.com)
You know, for such an incredibly long book CHRYSANTHE was so unbelievably forgettable. Just a note on the sheer length: my copy is roughly 500 pages with microscopic font and margins that are maybe 3/4 of an inch. Look –
The majority of the books I read are half that, usually creating a longer than required book but it reads quickly. Except this book wasn’t shortened by it’s tiny writing. Extend it out to regular reading font and margins and you’re looking at something that could possibly be broaching a 700 page book with no page breaks for chapters. They start a couple of lines down from the end of the former chapter. Only “book breaks” are allotted and there are seven “books” within this one. If CHRYSANTHE were actually parsed out into seven bound books it 1) wouldn’t have taken me a month to read because 2) I wouldn’t have read past the first book.
As it stands CHRYSANTHE is a strange one for me. I had neither the desire to stop reading nor continue. I wasn’t engrossed with the story and the characters were wafer thing with Christine barely developing beyond the first few pages. Forget about Quentin. That boy’s a lost cause. So I have no idea what compelled me to actually finish this title. It goes against all of the logic of my prior DNFs as it rightly should have been one.
In all honesty I do think it was the world. If nothing else the world was a pretty solid one and I found Quentin’s and Christine’s travels through the worlds to be fascinating and the concept that they’re not even real once you leave them pretty intriguing. It kind of bodes for the whole “tree falls in the forest” thing. If no one’s there to experience it does it exist after all? I wasn’t too fond of the whole Hero concept in that if there’s an incompetent ass on the throne then the Book (read: bible) will spit out a Hero to depose the crappy ruler and not much can be done because the Law (basically an intangible governing entity enforced by some kind of higher power) will kill you dead if you even so much as flick a royal’s nose and mean the harm it causes. For instance Christine, at around 10 years old, got into a fight with a schoolmate in the made world where she was trapped and the girl kicked her in the shin. Because the Law followed Christine and applied in the made world the girl died a horrible death (which varies from death to death on the method). Neat concept, kind of crappy attribution. There are a lot of flaws in the world’s logic but it painted a nice picture regardless.
Except for the poop. There’s a lot of it. Literally. The author had an unhealthy obsession of demonstrating a character’s ability to provide a BM. I have no idea why. But there was a lot of gut rumbling and voiding of bowels going on. Is this an aspect of fantasy I just wasn’t aware of?
CHRYSANTHE was one of the few books where I read reviews as I was reading it simply because I wanted to know why it kept getting such low star ratings. Having read it I can understand. You’re pretty much only going to tolerate it if you’re a world whore like I am, and even that’s a stretch. Reading it you’re pretty much skating on the surface, reading a text book account of what’s going on in these people’s lives. There’s very little by the way of character development and I believe only Christine does any developing at all. Barely. Having such vicious false memories implanted can have one hell of an effect on a person’s psyche and if I said Christine didn’t grow at all as a character I’d be lying but she doesn’t grow much. She is rather stunted in the maturity department and she does end up with a lot shoved into her lap and I do believe she reacts accordingly. But since everything else around her is stagnant and the time elapsed is only a matter of weeks it doesn’t help her. I think she’s come a long way in a short amount of time, all things considered, but it’s contextual.
I feel like reading something so incredibly dense I should have taken more away from it but it’s fluid; it just runs from my mind. There isn’t much that’s all that memorable about CHRYSANTHE but it’s not inherently bad either. I think if the author had a bit more focus and honed in on a single character or two instead of resorting to the third person omniscient voice I think more could have been done in terms of character development, especially for Christine. It’s supposed to be mostly her story but once she gets to Chrysanthe she’d abandoned for other corners of the world most of the time. It’s unfortunate.
I think the premise was fantastic and it had potential but the execution was lackluster at best. I really wanted to like CHRYSANTHE but it just fell flat.
Ban Factor: High – It has a “made” world where everything is fake, including a bastardized version of Christianity which Christine ends up abandoning for the “true” religion of Chrysanthe. No, no, the banners won’t like that.